If you haven’t been paying attention recently, the idea that the San Jose Earthquakes are approaching playoff positioning may come as a surprise to you. After a series of poor results left them in the cellar of the Western Conference standings, many people saw it as a foregone conclusion that the team's run would end along with the regular season in early November.
But back-to-back wins over Los Angeles Football Club and the LA Galaxy have breathed new life into a San Jose side that has shown to be resilient, especially in moments of uncertainty.
The six points from the last two matches have helped the Earthquakes jump from 12th place to ninth, and they now find themselves just one point below the eighth and final playoff spot with eight games to play.
Quakes head coach Matias Almeyda hasn’t had it easy this season. A growing injury report that has decimated the team’s center back depth, an erratic training schedule due to nearby wildfires, and games every three or four days, have left the Earthquakes searching for answers. But a great team victory over LAFC and a full week of training before taking on the LA Galaxy has helped steady the ship.
"I think it's important to train, to train every day,” he explained on Saturday after the match. “It's important for the players to believe in themselves, like they have recently. And to know that when the players are united, when they are clear-minded, they are competitive. It's always tough to play consistent games without many changes or rest; it becomes difficult. Being able to train for a full week, we were able to realize that it benefited us. Nonetheless, we always believed in what we were previously doing, and what we are currently doing."
Wednesday’s opponent, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, comes to town in less than spectacular form. The Canadian side has lost three consecutive games and been outscored 10-2 in those contests. They will also be without midfielder Janio Bikel, who received a red card on Saturday, and star forward Lucas Cavallini, who recently picked up his fifth yellow card of the season.
Vancouver has a 5-10-0 record, tied with Inter Miami CF for most losses this season. They are the only team in MLS without a single draw so far in 2020. Vancouver, as one of three Canadian teams in MLS, has had a complicated season as well. Their first six matches following the MLS is Back Tournament all came against either Toronto FC or the Montreal Impact due to international travel regulations and they are now using Portland as their pseudo home for the remainder of the season.
The match, presented by Clover, kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live on NBC Sports California, KNBR 1050 and 1370 KZSF.